Sneaky Manufacturers Shrink Packaging, While Keeping Prices the Same

Skippy peanut butter jars now have an inward "dimple" on the bottom to reduce the amount they hold. (Source: CNN)Prices of your favorite grocery items are skyrocketing, but you probably don't know it. Many companies are using a sneaky way to raise prices without driving customers to less expensive brands: they are shrinking their packaging. A jar of Skippy peanut butter, for example, is the same height and circumference it has always been, but now has a hidden, inward "dimple" on the bottom that decreases the amount the jar holds by two ounces. Boxes of breakfast cereal appear to be the same height and width they've always been, but manufacturers have reduced the boxes' depth from front to back, decreasing the amount of cereal they hold. Rolls of Scott toilet tissue contain the same number of sheets as always (1,000), but the length of each sheet has been cut from 4 to 3.7 inches. A "six ounce" can of Starkist Tuna now holds just five ounces. When asked about the shrinkage, most companies point to higher costs for ingredients, manufacturing and fuel. Dan Howard, a marketing professor at Southern Methodist University, says the only way consumers can fight back against this sneaky way of increasing costs is to refuse to buy from manufacturers who engage in this deceptive tactic.


I am in it, and this point about necessarily passing increased commodity costs down to the consumer is not always true. Product managers have a short term incentive to make more profit any way they can regardless of cost increases or decreases to commodities. If they make more bottom line, they get more bonus, they get promoted faster. Tactics to make packaging appear deceptively larger are called package improvements. Formulation changes for food that still legally meet quality claims on the packaging but use cheaper less beneficial ingredients are seen as "opportunities" to increase the profit margin of the product. When commodity prices go down, like the fluctuating price of coffee for example, the manufacturers hold off as long as they can watching the competition every day to see how long they can use the expensive commodity excuse until they "have to" reduce the cost for the consumer. And then the cost reduction is symbolic, never really proportional to the actual decrease. That is just part of the real world behind food manufacturing.

My guess is that they will soon alter the weights standards so that an ounce is no longer an ounce and shorten the inch. Look what they've done to the dollar!

Has anyone also noted that as the packaged goods shrink, the waistlines grow? It is as if they are adding corn sweeteners and hormones to make us seem as if we are over-eating while our paychecks and buying power shrink.
Good idea...stop buying convenience foods and make your own stuff.

I've been noticing this with alot of items ! Everything is getting smaller and smaller and the prices have gone up to. What are they going to do when they can't make the item any smaller ?! I've seen cases of soda pop go from 24 cans down to 20 cans. I noticed toilet paper rolls shrinking because my toilet paper holder will no longer hold the roll because the width got too narrow ! Cigarettes are even alittle smaller. Groceries are getting too expensive and don't stretch as long because we're getting less. Seems deceptive to me ,

I've used this for many years. Suddenly you need three squirts for what one used to do. Duh, might they have added more water? I don't think anyone is fooled by these tactics. Safeway bakery bagel are shrunk into half the size. Does anyone not notice these things?

I noticed this recently with a re-packaging of a particular brand of yogurt. The new container in fact took up more space in my fridge than the old one, but upon comparison, the actual amount of yogurt was roughly 100 milliliters less than with the old packaging.

But the price wasn’t reduced by the same ratio. In fact, I actually spent more to get less.

And now I feel cheated. Hoodwinked. A victim of a massive marketing ploy designed to deceive me into thinking I’m still getting something I’m not.

Whilst not condonning the actions of manufacturers in down-sizing packaging, surely we all have both a personal as well as a social responsibility to be aware of what we are purchasing. This should not only include packaging/marketing methodolgies; we should consider corporate responsibilties of the manufacturers/suppliers, the physical content of what we are purchasing, and sustainability factors. Without consumers buying, manufacturers cease to exsist. Therefore the ultimate power is in our hands, should we accept the responsibility to do so.

All I can even think appropriately enough to say is what a shame on the manufacturers!

We notice, and we feel cheated! I fully understand the need to increase prices as costs for everything goes up, but do not try to hide the increases with sneaky deceptive tricks! I am FAR more put off by this shady bait & switch tactic than I am by the higher prices.